Crow Swan Wolf by They Called Him Zone – Album Review
by Jake Penn
Formed in Bradford in 2016, They Called Him Zone deliver their second album in the form of Crow Swan Wolf. I managed to catch up with band frontman Mik Davis to talk about the album and the whirlwind start it has been for the band.
What was the motivation behind creating this album?
“We needed a follow-up to our first EP ‘Miami’ and hit a really creative patch just after releasing it. The songs were put together over a three month period, the majority of the songs started with a lyric, chorus or riff idea and it spiralled from there really.”
The pace of the album is set by the dreamy, gloomy ‘Just Fall’. With a sweeping sound from the vocals and the insistent tones of the keyboard, we move through this track as though through a thick fog, wondering what the rest of the album may hold in store.
“Our tastes are pretty broad”
On this six-track album the riffs Mik talks of are immediately evident in the song ‘Devil Dying’. Thirty seconds in, after a serene introduction, heavy drums pierce the air, accompanied by a wave of electric psychedelia, shocking this listener back into a state of alertness.
Who would you say your main influences are and are there any bands you try to emulate?
“Our tastes are too eccentric and eclectic. For example, at the moment I’m listening to a lot of 50s and 60s stuff such as The Everly Brothers as well as The Walker Brothers. Myself and Steve (guitar and programming) were travelling back from a gig recently listening to Cypress Hill, so our tastes are pretty broad. We get likened to The Jesus and Mary Chain, NIN, Sisters of Mercy and New Order a lot. As much as we dig these bands, we wouldn’t cite them as influences.”
It is easy to hear the comparisons to Nine Inch Nails. ‘They Called Him Zone’ deliver their music with a heavy presence, but shades of New Order are more evident. When asked about the comparisons with New Order, Mik replies: “I think people dig the rock electro crossover, so that is probably where that comparison comes in’.
Having all of these artists mentioned in the same sentence as your own, it’s easy to see how having a broad taste in music is transferable into the performance of it. They Called Him Zone combine the 80’s new wave feel of New Order with a darker, more brooding, NIN slant – it produces an interesting and potentially commercial result.
“Dark and melancholy music”
As a Yorkshireman, would you say that Yorkshire has its own musical identity?
“Yes in a way, although it’s definitely subjective though. I was just having the same conversation with a mentor of mine and we agreed that Yorkshire has always been a stronghold for Goth/Post-Punk/Electro and New Wave. There’s always an emerging Metal and Indie scene but historically the latter genres have always resonated with myself in this area. Saying that, I guess the whole M62 band (Liverpool to Hull) is rich with heritage and I think we share the same unique ability across that belt to make dark and melancholy music – uplifting yet doomy.
“I’m from Bradford, but have always had a strong connection with Leeds and the music scene there as it’s always had more to offer than my home town. I love Bradford but we have nothing in the way of scenes or clubs compared to Leeds.”
What is next for They Called Him Zone?
“Well, we were signed last year to Eromeda Records, an emerging label, and we have an album titled God, Sex, Death, Sin which is around eighty percent complete. We have just finished a track titled ‘We’re Only in it for the Drugs’, which was written about how people perceive the music industry and our own experiences.
“Anything could happen”
“I’m not too sure what’s next… It’s kind of weird, we were signed before we’d played our fifth gig together and we weren’t even a band until we released the second EP ‘Crow Swan Wolf’. It has all been a bit spontaneous, ad hoc and random really. Our label want to get us abroad to Germany but judging by our brief history together anything could happen!”
Leeds is a hotspot for all aspiring musicians and Yorkshire and Bradford in particular have a growing metal scene, but They Called Him Zone’s dark electro might appeal more to the German and other European markets. Spreading the word of their music and making it accessible to a wider variety of audiences is all that is needed to make this album and band hugely popular.
My overall impressions from this album is that They Called Him Zone are definitely one to watch.